Your Boston Bruins welcomed in the LA Kings to the TD Garden tonight for their first home game in 3 weeks. Prior to puck drop Homeboy Jack commented on the NESN feed how teams usually lose their first game back after an extended road trip. Turns out he’s got a touch of the fortune teller in him, as he proved prophetic about the final and the B’s penchant for giving up late game goals. While the boys grabbed a point out of this one, they left that crucial extra point sitting on the Garden ice as they fell to the Kings in OT.
Linus Ullmark was in net facing off against lefty Cal Petersen for the Kings. The Bruins lines remained static except Jack Ahcan slid in for Matt Grzelcyk who was a “gametime decision” after warm-ups. Both teams came into this one feeling themselves as of late as the Bruins were 8-2 in their last 10GP, while the Kings were 7-3 in their recent run. The elephant in the room? Oh yeah, that was the pumping the Bruins gave the Kings last week. The Bruins hung 7 on the Kings at the Crypot.Com Arena and if you think the Kings squad forgot about that one you got another thing coming.
The pace was blistering from the outset as the teams ramped up the physicality from the opening draw. The Bruins drew first blood when the Charlie Coyle line got on the score sheet with about 6 minutes gone in the period. Craig Smith picked the puck off in the neutral zone and drove into the LA zone. His drag snap eluded the defender and Petersen coughed up the rebound right to Coyle who was driving the net. Coyle gathered in the puck and laid it over to Trent Frederic who was all-alone in the high slot for the easy goal. This line needs a nickname besides “the best 3rd line in the NHL”.
Just about a minute later, some sloppiness in the Bruins end put the Kings on the board. An Olli Matta feed found Blake Lizotte in front of the Bruins net and he trickled one through Ullmark to tie the game. This sequence started with a David Pastrnak turnover behind HIS OWN net and then the pass went right through Pasta for the goal. I don’t think you’ll see Pastrnak’s name on many ballots for the Selke this year.
In the opening minutes of the 2nd, Ullmark showed his mobility and athleticism as he robbed Adrain Kempe from below the RW face-off circle. With a huge move across his crease going right to left The Ice Bear Dude got his glove on the one-timer. This was a highlight reel save and was huge for momentum at that point of the game.
The pace of this game made it feel like a playoff game. The crowd was into it, there were huge hits on both sides and the hockey was excellent. At one point in the middle frame, there was over 8 minutes of continuous play. With less than a minute to play in the 2nd, Smitty put the Bruins back up when he beat Petersen over the glove. Coyle kept possession in the LA zone (and dusted 2x Selke Award winner Anze Kopitar, not once – but twice!) along the wall, I mean the guy was a one-man cycle out there! Coming up the wall on the LW, Coyle put the pass on Smith’s tape out front in the high slot and Smitty (4g-3a-last 7GP) tucked it home. The Bruins took that lead into the room.
The final period was back and forth with scoring chances at both ends. The physicality ramped up as everyone was taking shots. With 2 minutes left to play, the Kings pulled Petersen for the extra attacker and had the Bruins bottled up. After an icing the Kings called their timeout and when they lined up for the face with about 45 seconds left to play; Homeboy Jack dropped the jinx of all jinxes. I don’t have his exact words, but it was something along the lines of “the Bruins have had a penchant lately for letting in late game goals, let’s hope that’s not the case tonight”. It was a chilling moment as the Kings tucked one in almost immediately. A shot from the point caught Charlie McAvoy in the body and dropped right onto Trevor Moore’s stick with an open cage in front of him. Tie game and time for extra hockey.
In OT, the Bruins opened up with McAvoy, Coyle and (checks notes) Jake DeBrusk? Seriously Butchie? The B’s kept offensive possession and had their looks, but Petersen was up to the task. Once the Kings gained possession, Ullmark kept them in it with an absolute robbery of Kopitar, but it was all for naught. An offensive zone giveaway by Coyle sent Andreas Athanasiou in alone and that was that.
The Bruins stay home as they host the Blackhawks on Thursday and the Coyotes on Saturday. We are currently two weeks away from the trade deadline, what do you think the Bruins will do? You can always send your free agent wishes and trade scenarios to me @abrow28
- The Coyle line is playing great hockey and lets everyone else slot into spots that they are effective. Trent Frederic is playing the best hockey of his career, Charlie Coyle is back to dominating the mismatches he faces and Craig Smith has rediscovered his scoring touch.
- Jack Ahcan played well in place of Matt Grzelcyk. Bruce Cassidy kept Achan with Brandon Carlo and kept the other pairs the same (Mike Reilly/Charlie McAvoy and Derek Forbort/Connor Clifton). The pairs are playing well and Cliffy Hockey is playing some strong minutes too. It will be interesting to see when Urho Vaakainen comes back.
- Speaking of which, Vaakainen was skating at this morning’s practice. He was in a red no contact jersey, but it was a positive sign.
- How is it that Jake DeBrusk still gives lackluster effort out there? This cat is playing with 2 future Hall of Famers and still looks like he’s phoning it in. Both Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron have commented publicly over the last week that the key for DeBrusk is maintaining his effort level, I mean if they’re saying that publicly imagine what their thinking in the room.
- The Bruins weren’t great in the face-off circle tonight, and that’s a rare statement. The Kings beat the Bruins at the dot tonight by a 35-24 margin. That will cost them down the line if it continues, Cassidy mentioned after the game that it’s not only on the center to win the draw, it’s on his linemates too. If I could just figure out what’s changed on Bergy’s wing lately???
- David Pastrnak and Taylor Hall didn’t appear on the ice in OT. Hopefully no injuries.
- Stick tap to Derek Forbort for basically forcing Adrian Kempe to fight after the final horn. Kempe had a play with McAvoy that looked bad, and could have possibly been slewfoot adjacent? Forbort didn’t like it and wanted a piece of Kempe. By taking him on after the final horn, Kempe got the 5min which took one of the Kings leading scorers off the ice for the entirety of OT. Smart play by the big guy.